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Stearns National Thespian Society


1964 marked a milestone for dramatics at Stearns High School. On January 2 of that year, local chapter 2155 troupe of the National Thespian Society held its initiation. During 1963, a group of twelve students led by Stearns speech director, Miss Joyce Higgins, applied for a charter for this organization. To qualify for membership, a student had to earn a total of ten points with each point representing ten hours spent working in some form of dramatics (acting, production, business etc.) Troupe 2155 at Stearns HS went on to give the school and community many fine performances of comedies, dramas and also hosted one-act play festivals and other area dramatic performances. Many SHS students were “bitten by the acting bug” as a result of this organization. The museum has two large scrapbooks (1964-1967 and 1969-1972) that were donated in 1993 by Anonymous. Whoever that was, they did a great job with the scrapbooks! They include numerous black and white photos depicting all aspects of the various performances as well as programs from each event and hand-written notes and identification of most students involved. The point list (very detailed) is also included. For example: a major role, full length play with more than 70 speeches could earn the actor 7-10 points. Stage crew members doing set construction for a one-act play could earn ½ -4 points. A few of the productions highlighted the scrapbooks are “The Mouse That Roared” (Senior Play, 1964); “Cheaper by the Dozen” (1964); and they even chose to perform “Caesar and Cleopatra”, a three-act drama (1965). A letter in the scrapbook to Miss Higgins announced that SHS had won the 1966 one-act play contest that had taken place at Greenville HS. The play the Stearns Thespians performed was titled “The Case of the Crushed Petunia.” Another undertaking was the First Annual Dionysian Festival with three different student directed one-act plays. Other festivals also took place at Stearns and other high schools. “Bye, Bye Birdie,” a full-length musical was directed by Dick Sawyer in 1969. Younger students got a chance later that year when the Stearns Thespians sponsored a play “The Bad Children” with seven Junior High students doing the performing. Dramas such as “The Miracle Worker” and “Death of a Salesman” to musicals like “Oliver” were presented. Nothing was too difficult for these young actors and crew members. The scrapbooks are available for viewing at the museum!

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